If you are interested in taking up a martial arts discipline for its self-defense techniques, it’s crucial to understand that they are not cut from the same cloth. In other words, some martial arts disciplines are definitely more effective than others in fending off violent physical attacks.
On this post, the team at BookMartialArts.com shares a list of the top 10 most effective martial arts disciplines (in no particular order) for self-defense and survival. As a bonus, we’ve included short anecdotes of those who have experienced and/or witnessed the effectiveness of martial arts practice in real life situations. We hope that their insights will help you to decide on which discipline you ought to pursue. Read on!
Developed in Ryukyu Islands (now known as Okinawa), Karate was brought to mainland Japan in the 20th century. After World War II, Okinawa became one of the most important US military bases and became popular among American soldiers. This martial arts discipline has since been widely practiced around the globe. Recently, it was also announced to be included in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics summer games.
Translated as ‘empty hand’ in English, Karate is a predominantly striking art that make use of punching, kicking, knee & elbow strikes as well as open hand techniques such as palm-heel strikes and spear hands. It emphasizes using the practitioner’s hands and legs as main forms of defense, making it one of the most effective to use for self-defense.
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Michael Miller of Millers Dojo and a 5th Degree Black Belt Karate practitioner shares his story:
“For five years I worked as a bouncer at a sports bar on weekends. One night, I grabbed a guy who started a fight by putting my right arm around his neck into a rear naked choke position. It broke his balance by putting my left hand in the small of his back and applied some pressure. By breaking his balance I was able to escort him to the door and get him outside. Just after I let him go I saw someone in the corner of my eye throw a haymaker punch at me so I ducked under it, grabbed the guy, slammed him up against the building and put my forearm in his throat. Since I had stopped his attack, I let him go. He was no longer a threat. Just as I did, he grabbed me by my upper arms and tried to swing me around and throw me to the ground. I ended up hitting him with six different rapid hand strikes – in both shoulders, both biceps, and both forearms which got him to let go of me, and I finished with a rear leg front kick to his groin which ended the attack.”
Michael also adds that should you decide to train in Karate, the most important aspect of your self-defense practice is to get as good as you can at the basics. Seek to master Karate’s fundamentals (stances, blocks, kicks, punches, hand strikes, etc.). Train them hard and often.
KEYSI FIGHTING METHOD
The ‘youngest’ of all martial arts disciplines on this list, Keysi Fighting Method (KFM) was created by Justo Dieguez and Andy Norman. If you are impressed with Batman’s fighting style in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Night’ trilogies, you have these two fighters to thank.
Basing the techniques on moves used on Dieguez’s personal street brawl experiences back in Spain, it focuses on moves that can effectively fend off multiple attackers. On an interview with BodyBuilding.com, Justo explained “KFM is a pure blood born street fighting method that was conceived on the street and born in the fight.”
Similar to Muay Thai, it emphasizes on using the body as a weapon. With the understanding that many street attacks occur in close-quarters, what makes this style unique is that it consists of no kicks. Rather, it is designed to attack with sharp elbow strikes, head butts and hammer fists which often can be more lethal than kicks or punches in real life situations.
Keysi Fighting Method demo clip from ‘Batman Begins’. Video credit: ChaosEntRETURNS YouTube Account
“If a person wants to hurt you they are likely to do so with a crowd or with others. This is basic ‘pack mentality ‘and it is a successful ploy to use. So KFM does what no other martial art has done. It places this at the center of its training, “Ok.We are surrounded by a group now let’s see how we can survive”. This mentality produces a great set of tools and training drills.
One thing that I do feel that is underestimated in the KFM training and hard to put into words is that there training cultivates ‘fighting spirit’. They call this the predator/ prey mentality and their drills develop this attitude to get you press the ‘switch’ in your mind that stops you thinking that you will become a victim and turns you into a ball of energy that is ready to fight.” – Andrew Holland of selfdefenceexpert.com